This machine was built 100% from photo-reference for an ad campaign for Futek, the company that made the servos and sensors aboard the rover. Seems the boys over at NASA would need over two weeks to give me the 3d files to build the rover, and I had only eight days to build a densely detailed model and deliver two images. This makes for a time consuming build, but you take what you have and build what you can. From many of the actual rover photos that were mostly shot with a wide angle lens and from a perspective, I sketched elevations from each of the 'high character' components. From my elevation sketches, I modeled directly on top of them, giving me a reasonably accurate model.
I rendered a few passes; ambient, reflective, z-depth using Maxwell, and added to that technical line shader to help support the various details. All of the passes were layered in photoshop. I didnt bother UV'ing the majority of the model, since I figured given very little time I should paint in whatever details I needed in Photoshop.
Here are a partial technical and ambient occulsive pass, of which show off the subtle modeling quality of the rover.
The Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) is a type of Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator developed for NASA space missions such as the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Energy's Office of Space and Defense Power Systems within the Office of Nuclear Energy. The MMRTG was developed by an industry team of Aerojet Rocketdyne and Teledyne Energy Systems.
The MMRTG is powered by 8 Pu-238 dioxide GPHS modeules, provided by the Department of Energy. Initially, these 8 GPHS modules generate about 2 kW thermal power.
The MMRTG design incorporates PbTe/TAGS thermoelectric couples from Teledyne Energy Systems. The MMRTG is designed to produce 125 W electrical power at the start of mission, falling to about 100 W after 14 years. With a mass of 45 kg the MMRTG provides about 2.8 W/kg of electrical power at beginning of life.
The MMRTG design is capable of operating both in the vacuum of space and in planetary atmospheres, such as on the surface of Mars. Design goals for the MMRTG included ensuring a high degree of safety, optimizing power levels over a minimum lifetime of 14 years, and minimizing weight.
Many of the reference photos that I get for a project need to be translated from a perspective (angular) view to an elevation, or flat side view. I do this by sketching these parts as seen above, then scan or take a picture of the sketch and use this as a reference to model over inside 3ds Max. Its a form of reverse engineering, in a rough kind of way.
These are the very approximate elevations and results for the high character parts of the rover, which I had to build based on the reference photos that I found. I had ten different views, and these helped majorly. I set these up as planes in 3ds Max and modeled directly over.